Archive for March, 2021

Working Through Your Mess (Judges 6-7)

March 31, 2021

 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. Judges 6:10

A recent commercial for the new I-Phone depicts a guy in his kitchen preparing some type of special dish. As he prepares the dish he is reckless with everything. The kitchen quickly becomes a mess and the new I-phone is experiences terrible treatment. The point of the commercial is to advertise the durability of the I-phone.

When I see the commercial I think about how the mess in the kitchen is a reminder of how I am responsible for the messes in my own life. I wonder, do you ever create a mess in your life?

The entire book of Judges is a vivid reminder of how sin in one’s life creates a mess. In Judges 6 and 7 the Hebrew people are enduring a mess they created. The Bible records that the Midianites were so vicious that the Hebrew people were hiding in caves in the mountains. The people of Israel were struggling to survive(6:1-5).

The Bible records that God sent a prophet to tell the people that they had caused their own mess (6:6-9). Brothers and sisters, as I read this story, I find important reminders as we seek to work through our messes:

  1. I am often prone to blame others for my mess. Gideon blamed God (6:13).
  2. Only God can fix our mess. We need God in our mess (6:12).
  3. We dilute God’s power when we only focus on our ability (6:13-17).
  4. God is gracious and merciful in leading us to deeper faith (6:18-40).
  5. God works for His glory alone (7:1-8).

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you go back through the above six reminders. Take the time to read the text given beside the reminder.

Whenever I receive the above reminders, they always lead me to handle my personal messes in the following way:

  • I repent for the sin I have committed.
  • I worship God for all His mercy and grace extended into my life.
  • I move forward in His fellowship and power to overcome the messes in my life.

2 questions:

  1. What messes have recently popped up in your life?
  2. What steps do you need to take in order to work through your current messes?

A man came to Jesus with a mess. Here is what both Jesus and that man said:

23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mk. 9:23-24

The Road You are On (Judges 3-5)

March 30, 2021

 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Judges 4:9

Early this morning I read a Facebook post from a friend who wrote with joy the following: “I am finally taking responsibility for my own health.” As I rejoiced, I continued to read. My friend wrote, “a friend came by and helped me to see my need to change the road I was on.” It is my prayer that God would use me in the same way as I write to you today.

Our focal text continues to be in the time of the Judges. I want to bring in your spiritual eyes very close in order to see two people. First I want you to see Deborah (4:4) who was a prophetess who was judging in Israel. Second, I want to see Barak (4:5) who God had personally called to take the road of leadership for his people.

Both these people were supposed to be on the same road, but one was not. Deborah was on the right road. She was using her gifts and talents to glorify God. However, Barak was not using his gifts and talents to lead. The Scripture does not tell us why he was not leading. At best we can only speculate. Some have written it was fear that had him on the wrong road. Still others wrote that it was open rebellion.

We really do not know. All that we know is that Deborah came to Barak and said, get on the right road. Praise be unto God, he listened.

I must ask, what is your current response to God’s roadway questions in your life?

My friend who posted this morning was in a yes response position with God. Still I know that much of the world is in a no response position with God. Others are in a position of saying, wait God. Finally there are those who are trying to figure it all out. I hope this blog finds you on the right rode.

At the end of chapter 5 we read the following:

“So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
    But your friends be like the sun
 as he rises in his might.”

Brothers and sisters, there are two roads to travel in life. The road of rebellion leads to Hell. The road of obedience leads to Heaven. Everyone is on one of those roads. Here are the words of Jesus:

41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Mat. 13:41-43

Oh how I pray that you get on and stay on the right road!

2 questions:

  1. Are you on the road to Heaven? If so, rejoice in His grace and run hard for Jesus on the road that leads to Heaven.
  2. Are your loved ones on the road to Heaven? if not, lean into prayer and lean into showing them the end result of both roads.

What did you do over the weekend? (Judges 1-2)

March 29, 2021

16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Judges 2:16

Its Monday again. Its time to engage another work-week for the glory of God. Oh, by the way, what did you do over the weekend? I can tell you that I was very busy. Friday evening was spend with a family in the church celebrating our lives together in Christ. On Saturday we meet at church for clean up day and also we posted flyers for our upcoming Easter celebration at our sports fields. Then Sunday was busy in worship and in Community Groups.

As I stand before my computer I find myself asking, God what did I accomplish over the weekend that was eternal in its efforts? I guess the question is fresh on my mind because of what we read this morning. The Hebrew people are now being led by the second-generation of people to live in the Promised Land (2:10). Take a moment and gaze upon the text:

 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

I wonder, why did the next generation not know the Lord or His marvelous works? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Maybe they rejected the Lord? This was truly one of the reasons (2:11-15).
  • Maybe their parents were so busy doing the work that they forgot to include their children.
  • Maybe their parents were so busy doing the work that they failed to instruct their children through worship and time together in the Word.
  • Maybe the parents were compromising already. Someone said, what we compromise in today will be fully embraced by the next generation.

I am deeply challenged in being reminded that I am called to reach the world beginning with my own home. In the book of Deuteronomy Moses (4:4-10) directed the people to teach and model their faith always before their families. In the book of Deuteronomy Moses (Chapter 28) instructed the people to drive out the enemy. But in Judges chapter 1 we discover a people who failed to drive out the enemy.

Because they would not drive out the enemy, the enemy began to pull them away from God (2:11-15). The result was a people broken-down by their sin. I find myself standing here before my computer asking God to fill me with the willpower to focus on things with eternal value.

Here is my prayer:

  1. God raise up Christians who will authentically worship You.
  2. God raise up Christians who will aggressively lead their families in serving You.
  3. God revive the church in America and around the world.
  4. God lead the church to be leaders in a great awakening in our day.

Two questions:

  1. What did you do over the weekend?
  2. Are there things you would do differently if you could have a redo?

What Are You Waiting For? (Joshua 17-19)

March 26, 2021

 So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you? Joshua 18:3

Let’s be honest with each other this day. We are each prone to procrastinate in certain areas of life. I know these areas differ depending on our heart’s position. I wonder, are there any things that God directs us to do, that we procrastinate about?

In our focal text Joshua is completing the allotment of land for the Tribes of Israel. As we read through the chapters Joshua is placing boundaries on the map of the Promised Land. As he speaks each tribe would have listened closely to know what was their set-aside land.

I know that these chapters may seem of little value to you today. But if you consider the context I think your views will change. Here is what I mean:

  • The land was in the hands of the enemy. The tribes would have to fight their way to victory.
  • The land was a gift from God. The tribes did not have to fear that they could not defeat the enemy.
  • The land was a reminder that there was more work to do.
  • The land demanded that there would be people who would step up to leadership in the land.

Joshua calls out 24 men to step forward with the purpose of going throughout the land to map it out and to plan the strategy for conquering the land. (18:3-6).

I can hear Joshua in my mind and in my ear calling out, let’s get to work. I can hear him asking, what are you waiting for.

Certainly I know the Bible tells us to wait on the Lord, Isaiah 40:30-31. I also know the Bible tells us to trust in the Lord, Prov. 3:5-6. But I also know the Bible says, “go,” Matt. 28:18-20. Above everything I know the Bible calls every person to realize we each have a valuable assignment from God (I Cor. 12).

This day, you need to be reminded of your assignment. This day you need to recall the very places God has called you and to the very purpose of your calling.

It is so easy to get busy and to forget what you have been called to do. It is even easier to make excuses as to why you are not presently able to do what God has called you to do. It’s time to again to see the land where we live as the land allotted to us by God to conquer for the Glory of God.

As a young man Jesus said, “I must be about my Father’s business.”

2 Questions:

  1. Are there things you are putting off doing?
  2. What steps will you take today to once again move forward in His plan for your life?

Your Inheritance (Joshua 12-15)

March 25, 2021

 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. Joshua 14:14

Imagine if you received a legit phone call from a lawyer who informed you that a distant relative had left you as their sole beneficiary of their wealth. At first I am sure you would be skeptical as if it was a scam. But let’s assume after investigation you discovered it was all true. So you call the lawyer back and you ask, what do I need to do to receive the inheritance. The lawyer responds, there is only one stipulation.

For a moment there is a pause and then the lawyer says, the long lost relative stipulates that you have to climb Mount Everest before you can receive the inheritance. At this point, the words of Jesus could come to mind, “we must count the cost” to see if the climb is worth it.

After counting the cost you realize this inheritance is worth it, so you begin to climb.

In our focal text for the day, Joshua was dividing the Promised Land between the 12 tribes as God was directing. As I read through those chapters it became clear that part of the land had already been conquered, but much the land was still to be conquered. God was saying, all this will be yours.

God said, “I will win the battle myself.” 13:6

God was saying, all you have to do is obey Me. God said, I will do the rest. Brothers and sisters does God’s call for our obedience seem like the difficult task of climbing Mount Everest? Take a moment and consider your answer. For Caleb the answer was no. Here was a brother whose story (14:6-10) was of a man who loved the Lord and wanted to wholly follow the Lord.

For Caleb the inheritance was the added blessing of a life blessed with the opportunity to walk with God who had saved Him and had keep him in faith and strength. At the age of 85 Joshua was ready to claim what God had placed before Him.

I must tell you that just like Caleb and Israel, you and I have received a call from our Lawyer (Advocate, Jesus Christ, I John 2:1-2). He has said, I have an inheritance awaiting away (John 14:3). He has said, I want you to wholly follow me along the path of life (Matthew 6:33). At the end the inheritance will be greater than you can imagine (Rev. 21). The question is, is this life of faith worth the cost?

I can say with all my heart, yes it is!!!

I place two questions before you today:

  1. Do you desire Heaven’s inheritance? If you do, consider laying aside all worldly pursuits. The journey to Heaven is greater in value when you are not sidetracked or saddled with the trinkets of this world.
  2. Are you at a place where you are struggling for purpose?

God has a greater purpose than you can imagine. I challenge you to consider the teaching of Paul:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men,[a] who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. II Tim. 2:1-10

They Took Them All In Battle (Joshua 9-11)

March 24, 2021

They took them all in battle. Joshua 20:10b

“I just don’t know how much more I can take.” The previous quote came from the lips of a true Christ-follower. Actually these were the godly words of a believer who was in the midst of the toughest of battles. Brothers and sisters, it actually was the toughest because it came at the climax of a series of battles that had been raging for a long time. As one person put it, this person was at the end of their rope.

Question: Are the battles getting to you?

If they are, I suggest this to you: Take a break from your battles.

Now I know this may seem to be an impossible task for you in the position you find yourself. I know you would like to do this, but in reality you are saying, I really don’t know how to do this! Take heart brothers and sisters, God has a way for you to take a break in your battles.

Christ followers can take a break in the most crucial part of their bodies. You and I can take a break in our minds.

In our reading for today, Joshua 9-11, we are taken back to the days when the Hebrews were told to take the Promised Land as their own. God promised to be with them if they obeyed Him in the battle. Their part was to walk forward to the battle and to engage in the battle as God directed. It was God’s part to win the battle.

Stay with me. When God gave the Hebrews victory, He reminded them of this truth:

20 For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the Lord commanded Moses.

Brothers and sisters, did you see it in Vs: 20? It was the Lord’s doing that they were engaging in battles. Here brothers and sisters is your mind resting moment:

There are some truths you cannot know outside of the battle.

In the battle the Hebrew people came to understand the following:

  • The beauty of true victory in God.
  • The truth of who God is in the deep end of the battle.
  • The joy of obedience.
  • The closeness of God in ones life.

These things can only be understood in the heat of battle. Brothers and sisters, I have learned that I can rest my mind each night knowing God has all-things under His control and in His purpose.

Some nights I cry out to God:

  • I know You have your hand all over my battles.
  • I know You will see me through my battles.
  • I know through You I can do all things.

Here is a resting from your battle verse:

 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I Cor. 10:13

2 Questions:

  1. Why are you so tired today?
  2. How can Joshua’s example help you to rest tonight?

Do You See Him There? (Deuteronomy 32-34; Psalm 91)

March 23, 2021

If they were wise, they would understand this;
    they would discern their latter end! Deuteronomy 32:29

Lean in with your mind and spiritual eyes. Do you see Moses in Deuteronomy 34? I see him in my minds eyes climbing Mount Nebo (34:2). Moses is a 120 year-old man who is defying nature. Look at him as he goes up the side of the mountain. It seems that each step is faster than the one before. Look closer as he nears the top of the mountain. Finally, he’s there. Do you see the joy in his face and glimmer in his eyes? I cannot imagine what is in Moses mind as he scans the Promised Land.

But wait, the clouds are coming down on Mount Nebo. I can’t see him. Oh, but wait, the clouds are lifting now. But where is Moses. Brothers and sisters, Moses is no where to be found? Let’s ask God, where is Moses?

Did you hear what God said? He said (34:10-11), He is with me. Wow! The man of God is now with the Lord in the Heavenly Promised Land.

Brothers and sisters, I do not know if this is how it happened. But I do know, Moses is with the Lord. I also know that every-time I get to this place in reading through the Bible, I start to reflect on my own life. In doing this I always consider what we see in Moses example:

  1. We see that Moses served the one-true God, 32:4.
  2. We see that Moses God loved a people who often did not love Him, 32:10.
  3. We see that Moses lead a large family that could not lead themselves:
    1. They did not really know Moses God.
    2. They forgot who He was.
    3. They did not understand where they were headed, 32:29.

4. We see that Moses sacrificed earthly blessings for a moment in the spot-light, 33:51-52.

5. We see that Moses was blessed beyond measure by God, 34:10-11.

6. We see Moses crossing over into the Heavenly Promised Land where he would await the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, Rev. 19:6-8.

I pray you take time in your devotions to read through the references I placed before you in this blog. I also pray that you do as I do each time I read these chapters, especially chapter 34. I always ask God, have I or am I doing anything that would disqualify our family, our church-family, or our nation from being blessed by Him?

With all my heart I want to come to the end of my journey having lived a life that would point people to Jesus, Deut. 32:29!!! I want the same for you.

2 questions:

  1. If your life ended today, would you be pleased with the work you have completed?
  2. What are the things you need to do in order to complete your work here?

Choose Life (Deuteronomy 30-31)

March 22, 2021

19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, Deuteronomy 30:19

I almost can’t believe what I am reading. How could anyone have not understood what Moses was saying? It was as if they were hearing Moses but not really listening to Moses.

Go back with me to that day in the desert as Moses gathered the elders and then later the whole congregation of the Hebrews. God placed before the elders and the congregation the path of life and the path of death. As I look back I almost want to shout out, listen to what God is saying. But as those words form in my mouth I am struck with my own weakness of heart and mind. I know how there are times when I hear but I do not listen.

I must ask, what kind of God would put up with such people as the Hebrews and what kind of God would put up with someone like me?

This my friend is what is so amazing in our text today. This amazing God knew what was in the hearts of the Hebrews (He knew what they were already inclined to do) and He still loved them. Their God and our God is a God of great mercy (II Cor. 1:3-4). He was and is the God who places His Word before us and He places the ability to carry out His Word within us (30:10).

Our God is gracious in every way (30:14)!!!

But there is a great problem in all that we have said. The problem is not with God. The problem is with His creation. Here are three things that I sometimes do:

  1. In my sin I sometimes hear but fail to listen.
  2. In my sin I sometimes want all that life offers but I end up lingering in dead ways.
  3. In my sin I sometimes say I am growing when I am actually turning a deaf ear to God.

In those moments, the Lord is gracious to discipline my life so that I will return to not only hearing but truly listening and obeying. Brothers and sisters, the key to choosing life is in every day beginning it before the Lord’s presence and His Word. Here is what happens when we do so:

  • We discover how wonderful He is. He is more wonderful each day.
  • We discover His wisdom is greater each day.
  • We discover the wonder of His presence and His plan for each new day.

2 Questions:

  1. What have you learned about God in the last week?
  2. What have you grown in the last week?

Foolish Thoughts (Deuteronomy 28-29)

March 19, 2021

19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. Deuteronomy 29:19

I am sure that you would agree that everyone does foolish things from time to time. Recently I was watching a collection of home videos of people doing foolish things. I found myself laughing each time a person failed until I realized how foolishness would have cost each person their life if not for the grace and mercy of God.

As we walk through our reading for today, it would seem obvious that God’s people would understand clearly that God was offering the Hebrews both a wise and foolish choice (Deuteronomy 28). If the people chose to obey God, be careful to do all He command, the Lord would bless them. If the people chose not to obey God, He would curse them.

The wise thing to do would be to obey God and this is what the entire congregation said they would do, However one generations later, The book of Judges, the Hebrews would do the foolish thing.

As I look back over my life, I realize I have done some pretty foolish things. I have so many times chosen the unwise path. I think about how many times in my pride that I foolishly thought that I had been successful in life when in actuality it was only by God’s grace and mercy that He “overtook me” in blessings.

Here is what I have discovered-just saying I want to follow God does not translate into following God.

It only happens as I genuinely obey him out of love. Here is how Moses described the Hebrews lack of love: “Because you did not serve the Lord your God and with joyfulness and gladness of heart.” (28:47).

In chapter 29, Moses warned the people about wrongly thinking that they could hide the condition of their hearts and that God would continue to bless them (29:19). Brothers and sisters, only when you love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, will you find that the greatest blessing is God Himself.

Today, I am praying that I would see the condition of my heart and that the condition of my heart would reflect love and willingness to obey Him.

Two questions:

  1. How do you decide between what is wise and what is foolish?
  2. Why do you want to be blessed by God?

The Sacred Position (Deuteronomy 24-27)

March 18, 2021

 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.

There is no easy way to tell you what I need to tell you. As my grandmother used to say, “just say it straight out.” Brothers and sisters where you place your money reveals where your heart is. Jesus said it even better when He said, “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also,” Matthew 6:21.

As we follow along in our readings, we continue to read Moses instructions for the Hebrews in how they were to live before God, each other, and the world around them. Moses offers this wonderful way for the Hebrews to give thanks to God for all His blessings in their lives. Moses directs the people in harvest time to give a First-Fruit offering to God when their crops were harvested.

Now, you and I may not be farmers, but we are workers who receive crops (salaries) for our work. Moses directed the people to give to God the first tenth of what they received. I tried to picture the scene as they would come to the Tabernacle with their gifts to the Lord. They would place them before the Lord and then they would worship this God who had give them all that they had. Oh what a scene it must have been. Moses directed them to rejoice (have joy) in knowing they had this honor to give to God. I just realized that we need to read exactly what Moses said:

10 And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. 11 And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

Question: Have you experienced the joy of giving? If you have, you know that when you give to God your life is filled to a level of joy that cannot be matched by anything else. Those who give to God and His Work become generous givers whose lives are filled with gratitude and grace.

But those who end up allowing their gifts to God to be swept away with self-focused things find themselves sad when it comes to even the mention of the subject of giving. Such people have wasted the sacred portion that belongs to God.

Maybe you are asking, how much should I give to God’s work? Well, I known the base line is 10% of your gross income. But who in love with God wants to just give what is required. Sherry and I want to give more than God requires. We want to be gracious with the God who has been gracious with us.

This day ask the Lord two questions:

  1. What is my sacred portion?
  2. What am I doing with the other portions in my life?

Allow God to speak to your heart to love Him and to give to Him for His glory that changes you from a person who takes into a person who gives!!!